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  Date: 06/05/2012

MEMS microphones from ST in tomorrow's smart homes

STMicroelectronics to play a key role in the European research project on 'Distant Speech Interaction for Robust Home Applications' (DIRHA). The three year program aims to investigate and prototype solutions for natural voice-enabled interaction between humans and machines in tomorrow's smart homes.

The DIRHA project sets to address the challenge of distant speech interaction in multi noise, multi speaker situations of a home environment. The goal is to create a pervasive, always listening sound space, where users needn't speak into the microphone to get recognized and understood, but the system reaches out, acoustically, to the speakers regardless of their position within the home.

The physical and acoustic parameters of ST's MEMS microphones fit the challenging requirements of distant speech interaction systems. The small form factor allows the researchers to embed entire arrays of microphones in the walls, desks, or speech enabled appliances of the automated home. The microphones' acoustic characteristics are coupled with sophisticated signal processing technologies. This makes it possible to identify and capture an individual speaker from several meters away, in a crowded room with music playing.

The distant speech interaction capability will not only dramatically change the way people interact with technology, but can make a real difference for those who can't easily move around, such as the elderly or the motor impaired. In addition to the home scenarios, the distant speech interaction systems can find use in robotics, telepresence, surveillance and industry automation.

The DIRHA program is organized into a number of work packages, spanning a total duration of 36 months, and the total cost of the project is 4.8 million euros. The main fields of research include multi-channel acoustic processing, distant speech recognition and understanding, speaker identification/verification, and spoken dialogue management in four languages - German, Greek, Italian and Portuguese. The final prototypes will be integrated in pilot households and evaluated by real users.

For more information http://dirha.fbk.eu


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